A thought on iPods, 2008

Jesper wrote the definitive prediction list for what Apple might reveal in this year’s iPod lineup refresh, but I just wanted to make a comment or two to see how badly I’m wrong when the announcements are actually made.

Firstly, I believe that if solid state drives were large enough, Apple would have no problem retiring the iPod classic. Not that it doesn’t have advantages over the iPod touch (“blind” operation, first and foremost), the iPod touch is a much better device in the scheme of things.

However, while it’s possible the iPod touch could reach 64GB this year, I still don’t think that’s big enough to drop the 160GB iPod classic. Next year, though, definitely.

Jesper raised a possibility I hadn’t considered: the iPod shuffle could be retired in favour of the iPod nano. (Not the iPod nona, which still has strong support in the Mediterranean community.) Considering you can buy 4GB flash drives for less than $30 these days, it’s probably going to happen sooner rather than later. I think the timing is a shade too early to completely drop the iPod shuffle entirely, and this is a change that will be happening next year, not this.

If a new product was going to be announced, I’d peg money on a re-designed iPod nano that has a similar form factor the iPod touch but much smaller. That is, an approximately 16/9 ratio device with a screen on one side and a button or two on the edges. Removing the scroll wheel allows for a large screen without really increasing the size of the whole device. And I think the screen would be just large enough to accept a limited range of input behaviour.

But really, I don’t think that’s going to happen (I can imagine an iPhone nano product sooner than this one); my predictions for this year are lack-lustre: no new products, very big de-emphasis on the iPods shuffle and classic; bumps on specs and price drops across the line for the iPods nano and touch. Hopefully bigger announcements regarding software and services. It’s about time for a bit of a refresh of the iTunes store, methinks. I could dream about a re-designed iTunes itself, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.


The chngpage package vs the changepage package

It occurs to me that there aren’t many people writing on the web about LaTeX. Mostly, I suspect, for the same reasons you don’t see as many people writing about HTML+CSS these days. It’s just a tool that some people use.

(That’s not to say that there aren’t periodicals and the like for people to write about what’s been going on.)

Anyway; here’s a nugget of information that might be of some use to some people in the near future.

Peter Wilson’s memoir LaTeX class is a major, recent, project that ties in many ideas for how to layout and customise a document in a single class. Some of the ideas in the class are also broken out into separate packages so that people who aren’t using memoir can still take advantage of them.

“chngpage” was one such package. It allowed you to locally change the layout of the text block in various different ways (for example, to place a figure that is centred on the physical page rather than centred in the text block). It also provided the very nice ability to robustly detect whether you’re on an even or odd page at any given position in the document (which is harder than you might expect).

Unfortunately, because chngpage was written before memoir it differed in one important way; to cut a long story short this made it tedious to write code that required the chngpage package because you had to jump through hoops to get it working in memoir as well. (As an example, see my addlines package.)

The problem was that neither memoir nor chngpage could be changed because of backwards compatibility problems. So Peter Wilson wrote a new package “changepage” that provides the same functionality as chngpage but uses the same interface as memoir; the result of this new package is that chngpage should no longer be used.

While it can still be found in the “obsolete” section of CTAN (here), chngpage is no longer included in TeX Live (as of TeX Live 2008). Packages that use it should switch to changepage, which is simply a matter of something like s/\ifcpoddpage/\ifoddpage/ for those who like regular expressions.

That reminds me. I’ve got a package that uses chngpage that I really need to update now…

Update: Fearless Leader (a.k.a. Karl Berry) has convinced me that any backwards compatibility problems caused by removing chngpage outweighs any nice ideological benefit from removing the package entirely. So it still exists in TeX Live! (Which was not my decision, but I agree with it.) The moral of the story, in the end, is the same: in new documents and packages, use the new changepage so that you play nicely with memoir


iTunes’ “Podcast Information” window doesn’t scroll

This is bug #6139143.


iTunes’ “Podcast information” window doesn’t accept scrollwheel or two finger trackpad scroll input.


  • Open the “Podcast Information” window (note that there’s no menu item for it, too)
  • Select a podcast with a long enough blurb so that the scroll bar appears
  • Try and scroll the text with the trackpad or with a scroll wheel


Doesn’t scroll.



While we’re on the subject, what’s with that weird window re-size widget?